Lebanon PM designate heads to London


Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati traveled to London on Wednesday on board a private jet, the National News Agency reported.

Earlier today Mikati called for strengthening Lebanon and to avoid being dragged into anything that might harm stability, National News Agency reported.

“The problems in Lebanon cannot bear to be increased by reactions to what is going on in some Arab countries – the repercussions of such reactions could be very bad for Lebanon and particularly Lebanese nationals residing in these Arab countries.” In a possible reference to Syria and Bahrain uprisings

Mikati’s press office denied on Wednesday a report published in the An-Nahar newspaper earlier in the day about a visit to Syria .

The statement issued by the office cited An-Nahar’s report that Mikati’s brother, Taha, visited Damascus on Tuesday to prepare for a “solidarity visit” to Damascus by President Michel Suleiman and the PM-designate.

The newspaper’s report “concerning the goal of the visit is completely unrelated to the truth,” Mikati’s office said in the statement.

Mikati was appointed in January as the PM designate with the backing of the Hezbollah March 8 alliance and MPs Walid Jumblatt and Mohammad Safadi . March 14 leaders have repeatedly said that intimidation from Hezbollah’s weapons helped secure the parliamentary majority for Mikati’s nomination.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been facing the biggest challenge to his rule. Popular protests demanding greater freedoms and an end to corruption erupted over a month ago in southern Syria and spread to the capital Damascus and most cities in Syria. Last Friday witnessed the largest ever protest and there are reports pointing to more protests this coming Friday since the Christians were urged to participate on Great Friday.

Just like the Egyptian, Tunisian and Libyan regimes the Syrian regime has been blaming foreigners for the protests. Last week the Syrian regime accused a Lebanese Future movement legislator of funding and arming the opposition to fuel a wave of protests in the country, a charge that was repeatedly denied by the party and MP Jamal al Jarrah.

Mikati called his Bahraini counterpart Prince Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa on Tuesday thanking him for his efforts in halting deportation of Lebanese expatriates residing in the Gulf state and thanked Bahraini King Hamad for his cooperation with Lebanon’s request that its expatriates not be blindly expelled .

Earlier this month, Bahrain deported 16 Lebanese, 14 of them Shia, over “security concerns” amid persistent unrest in the tiny Gulf state.

Bahrain interior minister Sheikh Rashed bin Abdullah al-Khalifa linked Hezbollah to the protests during his address to the parliament on March 29

He accused the predominantly Shiite protesters of being linked to” the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, “as proven by the demonstrators’ methods as well as statements of support from the Lebanese Shiite group and Tehran.”

“All this reveals a link and the training style of Hezbollah,” the interior minister said.